Honda needs to treat Mir like Yamaha treats Quartararo

Even the Abu Dhabi Auto Racing League

Famed MotoGP crew chief Jeremy Burgess – champion with Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi – once said: “If a rider wants a gold handlebar, give him a gold handlebar.”

It's a lesson Yamaha appears to have internalized, given the efforts it made to persuade Fabio Quartararo to stay, and one that Honda looks like it will need to learn soon if it wants to retain its world champion rider Joan Mir after the 2024 MotoGP World Championship season.

The changes Yamaha made to ensure the 2021 world champion remains in place have been extensive and well-documented. Adding in several new ideas from Europe, it means that for the first time ever Yamaha has an Italian rather than a Japanese engineer leading the development of the M1 in the form of former Ducati man Massimo Bartolini.

He joins new head of aerodynamics Marco Nicotra, also poached from Bologna, while Yamaha's engine development program has been led for some time by former Toyota and Ferrari Formula 1 man Luca Marmorini.

The change has already been noticeable too, even if not completely reflected in the results, with the arrival of a slew of new components – and what The Race sources believe was a very successful test last week at Mugello ahead of that weekend's Catalan Grand Prix.

And while many have suggested that it was only money that motivated Quartararo to renew his contract with Yamaha for another two years, that's not fair to him given how much he has called for change in the past two years – and how generous he has been with his praise. It was about the team's efforts to adapt.

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha, motorcycles

Mir has not had Quartararo's influence at Honda – far from it. But he is the youngest rider contracted to the brand, the driver with the most success in the MotoGP championship, and perhaps the highest performance ceiling – and yet it appears, at least publicly, that Honda has not done enough to ensure Mir stays on.

Making staffing changes but doing so by rotating Japanese engineers through the team has meant that the RC213V's troubled development to date may seem a bit evolutionary rather than brave and bold – something the 2020 world champion has admitted himself.

“It is true that Honda has also changed a lot of things internally,” Mir insisted. “I don't know if… maybe they think that's enough – and maybe that is it.

“But for now, it is true that we have to give some time to understand, have some patience and give new people a chance.

“But yes, it is true that everything we have tried at the moment is not the trend. Compared to last year, what I can say is that I see more reactions this year. This is the truth.

Joan Mir, Honda, motorcycles

“But if you ask me if this is enough or not, I don’t know. Let’s give him more time and give him more patience. But the reality now is this.”

When questioned directly about the contract issues, Mir appeared to be a contestant far I am convinced to commit to Honda again.

But the truth is that although his results may not show it yet, Honda needs Mir just as much or perhaps more than he needs Honda.

He has had a tough time so far as a Honda rider – his total number of crashes last year was significantly just two points lower than the number of points he scored throughout the entire season.

This appears to have been a result of the Spaniard simply refusing to accept the bike's limitations and continuing to push as hard as he can – and a similar pattern looks set to occur in 2024.

Joan Mir accident, Honda, motorcycles

And to be honest, this is why Honda needs to keep Mir. Not only is he an incredibly talented racer with a track record of solid development work, but he's a racer who won't just phone up and cash checks.

With newcomer Luca Marini having reached the finish line in all but one of ten starts, without a point to show for it, Honda needs to see the value in Mir's reckless performance.

Whether Mir is the future or not, she is in no position to walk away disappointed now, another failure for Honda to terminate his contract and wait for any old name to take his place from an increasingly shrinking list of candidates. .


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